OACD Conservation Leadership Class 2012 Holds Third Session at Illinois River

The Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Water Quality Division (WQ) hosted the OACD Conservation Leadership Class 2012 for a session at the Illinois River near Tahlequah on July 9-10, 2012. Members of the WQ staff explained the work done by the division and led exercises to demonstrate how the work is done.

image of OACD Conservation Leadership Class 2012
Most of the members of the OACD Conservation Leadership Class 2012 were able to attend the orientation session during the OACD 2012 State Meeting.
image of Gary Sherrer speaking to leadership class
Sec. of Environment Gary Sherrer spoke to the Leadership Class in the Governor’s Conference Room at the Capitol in April.
image of class members at Illinois River
Shanon Phillips, OCC/WQ director, spoke to class members at the Illinois River in July.

The OACD Conservation Leadership program is sponsored by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD), Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The goal is for participants, through educational and activity sessions in different locations across the state during the course of the year, to gain a thorough understanding of Oklahoma’s conservation history, current natural resource issues and local, state and federal conservation programs and activities. The ultimate goal is to develop new leadership for the state’s natural resource conservation movement.

The program began in 1997 with 18 members of local conservation district boards of directors from across the state. Class Two was held in 2000 with 17 district directors. Class Three, with 18 members in 2002, was cut short due to the state’s budget crisis.

Two of the 20 members of the fourth class are returning members from the 2002 class — Joy Elledge and Wayne Sexton. The 2012 class includes 17 directors, one conservation district employee and two NRCS employees.

The Conservation Leadership Class 2012 members are:

  • Jimmy Emmons, Dewey County Conservation District, director
  • Jan Kunze, Oklahoma County Conservation District, director
  • Everett Wollenberg, McClain County Conservation District, director
  • Warren Frantz, Kay County Conservation District, director
  • Lucas Cannon, Shawnee Conservation District, director
  • Joy Elledge, Nowata County Conservation District, director
  • Janet Froeb, Wagoner County Conservation District, director
  • Dale Tullis, Craig County Conservation District, director
  • John Flaming, Deer Creek Conservation District, director
  • Max Gallaway, Stephens County Conservation District, director
  • Dean Graumann, Greer County Conservation District, director
  • Wayne Sexton, Pittsburg County Conservation District, director
  • Ben Murdaugh, Pittsburg County Conservation District, director
  • Dale Jenkins, Hughes County Conservation District, director
  • Larry Young, LeFlore County Conservation District, director
  • Kim Farber, Garfield County Conservation District, director
  • Dan Herald, Texas County Conservation District, director
  • Katie Scheihing, Central North Canadian River Conservation District, secretary
  • Ryan Jones, Mangum NRCS office, district conservationist
  • Valerie Hannon, Durant NRCS office, district conservationist

The 2012 Leadership Class met first for a two-part orientation session during the OACD State Meeting in Midwest City in February. The first official session was held in Oklahoma City, on April 16-17, in conjunction with Conservation Day at the Capitol. Legislative leaders and agency heads provided information about the legislative process and how it affects conservation and how other agencies interact with conservation efforts.

At the Illinois River session for the 2012 class in July, WQ staff explained that nonpoint source water quality pollution occurs when water runoff carries sediment and animal waste and nutrients into streams. With funding primarily through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and technical assistance from NRCS, OCC offers programs to help farmers and ranchers implement best management practices (BMPs) to reduce runoff and filter the sediment and other contaminants.

What makes Oklahoma’s program unique from other states is the extensive stream monitoring program. Water sampling results from streams in watersheds where BMPs have been implemented are compared to similar local streams without BMP implementation. The demonstrated proof of the benefits from BMP implementation have led to Oklahoma becoming a leader in water quality success stories listed on EPA’s website.

WQ staff led Leadership Class members in stream sampling activities including collecting water samples, performing chemical tests, performing habitat assessment and collecting and counting fish and insect numbers and species.

The next session for the Leadership Class is scheduled for Woodward in the fall where the focus will be on rangeland management and conservation issues and on special projects underway by OACD. Another session is planned for December at the Quartz Mountain Lodge in southwest Oklahoma and will cover the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan and many water issues facing the state. The final session is planned for Stillwater in January or February 2013 to look at how NRCS functions and its programs and services, and how the state’s conservation partnership works together.